The Publishing World …
I have said this before but it’s worth reminding ourselves that if you are really serious about a career as a writer, make sure you come to it informed. Writing is a strange art because most of us can write in some capacity and most even think we have a book in us. I think the phrase is bantered around perhaps a little too eagerly because if we really knew how much hard work was needed to hone our craft, let alone find our work a home, many would give up before they start. Not me, or you … but many would for sure.
But this idea everyone can write is not really true — there’s being able to write your name and string some sentences together and BEING ABLE TO WRITE … well.
So when I think back to when I first started submitting work, which was my first novel about 10 years ago, I had no idea what world I was yearning to enter. Sounds weird doesn’t it — to have such dreams to be something based on an ideology in your own head. And I think when we start out it’s the same for us all. So all I can say now ten years on is — make sure you’re savvy about that. Get clued up and make sure you know that your submission isn’t a folly — it’s a serious job application and as such no pink paper and photos of the kids that need feeding! Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it — but this really happens. I remember an agent saying this very thing at Winchester Writing Conference.
I think a lot of my ‘learning about the business’ has come from making mistakes, from learning as I submitted, from the courses I attended, the workshops, the writing magazines I read … and so on and finally from finding myself working for and as a small publisher so I learned how the process work from the inside, at least at a very basic level. But as a publisher, while I learned about registering titles, ISBNs, graphic design I also learned just how hard it is to make money from books. And when I was lucky enough to have my novel accepted (and for that matter shorts as well) just what was expected of me as the author.
I know authors who dream of the success but say they write because they need something to hide behind. They say, ‘That is why I write and don’t act.’ And things like that. They have no interest in attending launches or giving readings. They don’t to have to shout about themselves. If that’s the case, think carefully. I am not saying publication and launching books is the only reason to write (we have talked about that as well) but if you’re trying to get an agent and a publisher that’s the message you’re sending and so remember first and foremost, art or not, this is a business and as such who would employ someone who wants the company to do all the work and you never ‘get involved.’ How many jobs do you start where you did all the hard work to land the job and now think you can sit down and count the pennies? Seems obvious and I know you all know this — but sadly I do know people who still think a publisher makes their book and sends them big fat cheques while they just … write.
Sadly these days for a commercial success you will need to do this. I hate the ‘ego’ side of it too, but all I can say is I LOVE to write. I LOVE life. I LOVE what I do. And if a life as an author means I have to talk about that and shout it with passion and gusto, then that’s what I’ll do. It will please the publisher, it will get the work out that and it means I can talk about what I love — which I do anyway, here every day. So what’s to hate?
So do it and enjoy it.
I am grateful for the journey as I have learned and am still learning so much. It’s the way it has to be. And from the journey we build our strengths. I know if my first novel had been accepted (and there is no way it was good enough I know now, it was only as ‘good as it could be’ with what I knew at the time) I would have been thrown into a world I knew nothing about. While baptism by fire has been a way I have had to learn some of the jobs I’ve done in my life and is a quick way to learn, I prefer the long-haul. I need to be prepared and I knew I was ready for this now it’s FINALLY come for me.
So make sure you know as much as you can about this business. Always be prepared when you apply for a job!
I am half-way through a short story I have been commissioned to write for an animal charity book and loving it … so have a great day whatever you do today.
And on the note of knowing as much as you can, about the business and the craft, do look at the books I recommend on my website:
Have a good one!